Thursday, April 12, 2012

Things That Distract...

I saw this on Facebook and had to share it because I had just had a friend stop by yesterday and really wished there was an excuse for the what looked like a cyclone had blown through my house! As I led her into the kitchen to send her home with some birthday cake I wondered, "Why does my kitchen look this way?" through my dentist-imposed haze. I remembered getting half-way through dinner clean-up last night and then deciding there was something else to do.

Ah, yes. NOW I remember. It has begun again, my quest for THE home school curriculum. Okay, I've got to figure this out right now, what is the plural for curriculum? Pause for discovery...Curricula. Well, I was wrong; I was thinking possibly curriculi, now I know. Anyway, I am a self-admitted curriculum junkie. The problem is, for a homeschooler there are way too many choices out there! Yes, it's true that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to choose what works for your family as well as your child's learning styles and abilities. That being said, when do you know you've found that one? Maybe this one works pretty well, but there might be another that has the few elements that seem to be missing from your current one that would make everything complete! Do you see where I am going? I have known many homeschool families that have chosen and stuck with the same boxed curricula for as long as they have homeschooled, but not me! In our 13 years of homeschooling I have probably changed core curricula 4-5 times and other minor changes every year. And it doesn't help that the kids like the change as well, or that there is always something new coming out.

So about my messy house, I had stopped cleaning my kitchen to look at a curriculum catalogue! I really thought I was off that roller coaster with one almost graduated and the other in a nice steady curriculum rut, oh excuse me, on a stable curriculum path. And then along came little guy. With him turning two this week I realized that Kindergarten is just 3 years around the corner! It's never to soon to start thinking about curriculum. In fact, I had already made some decisions while he was in the womb! Then a couple weeks ago this catalogue came in the mail and it was a curriculum that I had seen at conferences before and never gave it a second look for whatever reason. Then this week I picked it up and glanced through it. One little sentence had me pouring over it. "Combining the best of Charlotte Mason's ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a Biblical worldview." Well," I thought to myself, "that's exactly what I want." I've done all of them but Charlotte Mason, and that's what I was planning to do this time, so all of them together would be perfect.

If you don't know anything about homeschool curriculum there are so many ways to choose. You can choose by learning style and philosophy. You can choose by religious affiliation or denomination. You can choose by cost. Some learning philosophies are Classical, Hebraic model, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, Unschooling, World View...and I'm no expert. You might also want a curriculum particular to your catholic, baptist, reformed protestant, Mennonite, Latterday Saints, or secular background. There are also the questions of how many children you are schooling at once and do you want them all to be learning together. It's a miracle anyone is able to decide anything! Obviously you can use these categories to narrow it all down and then still have an abundance to choose from. You can choose whole curricula or piece subjects together, color or black and white textbooks, workbooks or printouts, hands-on or computer education. The options are seemingly endless--what a blessing we have! And I mean that.

I am joking about my curriculum addiction, but knowing that I have the freedom not to use curricula that don't work well for my children is a wonderful thing. Sometimes you keep trying new things and finally realize that a particular child is just not great at spelling. Don't we all have something we aren't great at (like keeping my kitchen spotless)? What we have to do is nurture the things we are great at. So if your child loves to cut and paste (mine did not) you can do a million lapbooks. If your child has wiggly pants all the time,  you can do a lot of nature studies. There comes a point--high school--when you have to hunker down and make planning for the future decisions. I know because I'm at the tail end of one with another not far off, and it isn't quite as fun as the younger years of homeschooling. There are blessings there, like seeing the maturity increase daily before your eyes and watching adult principles be applied independently.

But truly, I am so glad that God has given me the blessing of starting another homeschooling journey from the beginning. For some reason it is more fun to teach colors and words of things in nature than grown-up math and science. Yes, I will become a whirlwind curricula tester, but it's all part of the fun. I need to print some sort of funny sign to put over my kitchen sink to remind me to just keep washing and look at curricula later!


  1. I'm going to be homeschooling my little one in the next couple of years, and it all seems so overwhelming! I'd love some tips or advice on good curriculum!

    1. I was just thinking after writing this post that I will do another post on my experience with curriculum hunting and some hints and tips. Coming soon!